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After losing their first two games against them, the Clippers felt they had something to prove against the Warriors, and boy did they prove it. They led wire to wire and by as many as 39 before settling for a 26 point win.
Citizen Erik O has been too long missing from Clips Nation, spending time with the real people during the holidays, but he was at the game tonight and will be along in a bit with a recap. Until then, here's a quick recap and a place to discuss the win.
It's kind of amazing what a difference it makes to just make shots. The Warriors missed their first seven three pointers in this one after making simply everything three nights ago in Oakland. It'd be easy enough to say that the Clippers played significantly better defense and took away their open looks, but I don't personally believe it's true. The Clippers did a decent job of challenging shots Wednesday and the shots went in. They did about the same tonight and the shots didn't.
That was clearly not the only difference in the two games, but it was an important one. Regardless, it winds up being a 46 point swing -- from a 21 point Golden State win last game to a 26 point Clippers win three days later. By the way, that 26 point margin not really indicative of the game, which the Clippers led by as much as 39 and by 37 entering the fourth quarter. And who isn't looking forward to the next game between these two teams, in Oakland on Jan. 21? Each team will have something to prove. The Warriors will be looking to avenge this embarrassment, while the Clippers will want to establish that they are really the superior team and that the first two losses were the real anomalies.
This is the kind of game where you start to think "Save something for another opponent." Everything went right for the Clippers. Chris Paul made 5-6 three pointers. Eric Bledsoe showed more signs of getting out of his slump, and even banked in a three at the end of the shot clock in the second quarter. Heck, Ronny Turiaf even banked in a shot off an in-bound lob with 0.2 seconds left in the third quarter, though the refs ultimately disallowed it.
The Clippers had seven players in double figures, led by Paul with 27 and Blake Griffin with 20. Griffin shot 8-12 and also had seven assists and three steals, all in just 30 minutes. And all this was with their best bench scorer unavailable. The Clippers scored 103 points through three quarters and only a particularly garbage-filled fourth quarter kept this from being the most lopsided Clippers win in the 40-plus year history of this rivalry.
Any talk of the Warriors possibly having the Clippers number, and indeed of the Warriors perhaps being an elite team, would appear to have been premature. The Clippers made a statement in this game that the Pacific Division championship will continue to go through L.A. -- if not through the same team as before.
Erik will be along with the full recap later.